As New Year's resolutions are set, many find themselves with the same goals as last year...and the year before. If something stays in our mind year after year then one can imagine that it's something important to us, so why aren’t we making it happen? Why have many given up less than thirty days into the clean start of a new year filled with hope?
That’s why I don’t set resolutions.
By the time the confetti has finished falling in Times Square, some have already slipped or have forgotten the resolutions that were so important to them mere hours before. Don’t get me wrong, it's not the timing of New Year's resolutions that I have a problem with, as a new year is a great time to look back at the "wins" and special moments from the previous year. It is also a chance to learn from mistakes and challenges and leave them behind with the outdated calendars.
Resolution is a loaded word.
Webster’s dictionary defines resolveas "making a definite and serious decision to do something or to make a formal decision about something, usually by a vote."
The issues with resolutions are right there in the definition. Sometimes resolutions are something we do because our mother, doctor or society says that we should, but it’s hard to make a change that is more important to someone else. Your life isn’t a democracy; changes that stick aren’t decided by popular vote. Going back, look at the weight of the words in the definition: definite, serious, formal. These words feel rigid to me, creating a sense of pressure. We are flawed beings who will misstep as we experience changing circumstances. Very rarely is anything definite so we must bend to not break.
While I don’t believe in resolutions, I do believe in intentions. Intent is defined as "what one intends to accomplish and obtain, what one has in mind to do or bring about." It makes sense that when the door closes on one year and opens on another we take this time to think about our desires for our future. We can bring about change but we can’t guarantee outcomes, we can only take the right actions.
You can call it semantics, but words have power.
Reading these two definitions, I find my body has a clear physical reaction. With "resolution" my heart races. "Intention" makes me take a deep breath. Read both out loud. Can you feel your body tense or constrict as you say "resolve" and expand or relax with "intent", as mine does?
Are you ready to ease into the new year with some authentic intentions? Find a peaceful spot and time and follow the tips below:
Think about what you want to feel, accomplish and experience in the next twelve months.
Keep it an internal process; don’t ask for input from others and be selective in sharing.
Don’t try to make several sweeping changes at once - you’re more likely to experience overwhelm than success.
Don’t set it and forget it. Put it in your planner, make it your desktop picture and stick post-its around the house.
Don’t set a goal or intention for something that is out of your control.
Don’t wait for December 31st to roll around again. Reevaluate every three or six months. Do your intentions still feel important, authentic and relevant?